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Global Governance Centre

Financing and reforming the African Union

The African Union (AU) groups 55 African countries in a unique regional international organization (IO) spanning an entire continent. In theory, the AU is the organizational beacon of African decolonization. In practice, the AU is a complex regional social space made up of African state elites, AU bureaucrats and external partners. The amount of external financial and diplomatic involvement at the AU is striking, as the AU's programmes are substantially financed by external partners. In recent years, an ambitious reform agenda has sought to address some of the bottlenecks of the AU's resource mobilization and organizational performance.

This project identifies mechanisms of influence and resistance between external partners, member states and international organization secretariats. Based on 100+ interviews in Addis Ababa, Pretoria and Brussels, two empirical case studies (infrastructure development and peace & security) illustrate the theoretical argument. The project speaks to debates on IO financing, development aid, and interorganizational cooperation. The AU, in other words, is an instructive case of the global crisis of assessed contributions in IOs, and has developed innovative new financing mechanisms for Africa's development.


Timeline: March 2017 - July 2021 


Funding organisation: